Monday, 3 December 2007

My cursed presentation

For the frequent readers of my blog, you may know more recently I've been running my "Take a Load Off!" presentation at Oracle Open World Unconference, as well as the 2007 AUSOUG Perth and Melbourne conference legs. This presentation took time out to look at load and stress testing the latest web technologies, in particular those from Oracle such as Application Express (Apex) and JDeveloper.

This presentation has turned out to be in fact "cursed". There's no other description that's suitable.

The presentation contained a significant amount of live demos ("oh-no" I hear you say). Yet regardless of the amount of preparation I put in and the number of successful dry-runs I had before my presentation, the live demos kept on failing right at the critical point of my "live stand up routine". First at OOW my database exploded taking 99% of my CPU making my presentation drag to a halt. Then in Perth Apache JMeter and JDeveloper refused to talk and I had to rely on good ol'Apex to demonstrate what I wanted to show. Finally in Melbourne my laptop's Firewall went nuts right at the last moment, and I later discovered I was running on battery power for the whole demo. This is of course not to forget the same morning my database Listener wouldn't talk to my database and I had to desperately call my boss and her ever handy DBA expertise to sort it out.

Read my lips: "aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!"

There's a line in Australian television acting circles (I'm sure it crosses international barriers), that you should never work with animals or children during live broadcasts. I'd like to extend that to Oracle products during presentations for the foreseeable future! ;)

As somebody pointed out to me today though, the common denominator in the presentation wasn't the various technologies that failed, but in fact the operator himself. Being an Aussie, you can imagine my response to that ;)

Anyway, I've learned my lesson. From now on, it's all canned demos with Powerpoint content. At least until my confidence returns. I'd love to hear other presenters' "disaster stories" if you're willing to share.

For those overly keen on the whole load and stress testing gig, as well as checking the latest database tuning and Apex presentations from my boss Penny Cookson, head along to the Sage website to download the content. However I make no promise that my presentation wont destroy your PC.


Gerard Davison said...


Well on Wednesday I an domnstrating JMeter, SOAPUI, and JDeveloper HTTP Analyzer on the same machine at UKOUG'07. Now I am rather worried!

Any problem in JDeveloper specifically you want fixing? Or does your computer just hate you?


Stephan said...

Always use flash movies for demos, never present with life software. At least that's what've I learned over the last 20 years.

I once hacked a quick fix into a demo system 30min before the VC arrived. Guess what happened? :-)


Stephan Schmidt ::
Reposita Open Source - Monitor your software development
Blog at - No signal. No noise.

Tim Dexter - BIP said...

Hey Chris
I learnt my lesson long ago ... I now turn up ready to do the live demo but ready with backup viewlets/jing-ettes if disaster strikes.
I had a moment of panic at OOW, I had been using my laptop and a monitor at home - dragging windows to the monitor to double my space. When it came to sharing my desktop for the projector it did not want to play ball. The room tech was lost - until I remembered what I had done. A minute later all was well with the world and all the demos went off w/o a hitch.

Chris Muir said...

@Stephan and Tim, thanks for the tips. The recorded demo seems a much better idea than the backup Powerpoint flick show.

@Gerard, nah, my laptop is in serious need of a rebuild. I've been waiting for XP SP3 or was going to bite the bullet and finally buy a new one. Looks like a rebuild over the Christmas break for me.